On a recent flight out of town for work, I began flipping through the pages of the airline’s magazine: meandering through the articles, passing the time. Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, so I deemed it fitting to have come across a plethora of articles in regards to this adopted Holiday. When I came across the title, “Valentine’s Day: The Male Perspective,” my browsing came to a halt and I began to read the pages of this article; Curious to know how men really feel about Valentine’s Day. In this particular article, a few men from various cities throughout the United States were interviewed. When asked what Valentine’s Day means to them in a sentence or two, I found it a bit difficult to express the emotions that I began to feel upon reading some of their responses: annoyed, flabbergasted, indifferent to what they had to say, non-empathetic. Have a read for yourself:
Charlie, from San Pedro, California:
“[To me, Valentine’s Day] is an alien, mass-societal ritual which nonetheless must be adhered to at all costs. And the sinister cabal run by Hallmark, Hershey’s, the National Restaurant Association...has won this round, but tomorrow is another day.”
Thom from Portland, Oregon:
“Here’s yet another mundane ‘celebration’ wholly removed from any genuine cultural underpinnings.” But then Thom confesses the following: “I am so glad I knocked off this obligation online so I don’t have to be one of those lemmings picking through flower bins.”
Really, Thom? I feel sympathy towards the woman who is with a man that completely disregards Valentine’s Day as ‘mundane’ because of its alleged lack of ‘genuine-ness.’ And then proceeds to admit that the gesture of love he will show to his beloved on this day required a few button clicks on some floral internet website. Time may be precious, yes. But a real man, a chivalrous, humble man would be the man out there on the roadside searching through bins of flowers for the perfect combination, taking heed to what he knows his beloved likes. Pink roses, instead of red. Or maybe orchids light up her day? Maybe its daisies? That’s up to you to figure out, up to you to want to figure that out. It’s a small gesture, really. But moving along now...
Instead of being boisterous, proud or annoyed with what society has made this day to be, let us all revisit a bit of history and take a moment to get back to the basics.
Craig, from Taos, N.M. got it right when he himself stated that he agreed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s stance on this day:
“Emerson denounced Valentine’s Day gift shopping as ‘barbarous’ and ‘a cold and lifeless substitute for a personal offering from the heart.’”
That’s just it: this day shouldn’t be about purchasing materialistic things or spending money you don’t have on trying to show your affection through a lavish dinner, or expensive bouquet of flowers or a piece of jewelry. That’s where we, as a society, have gotten it wrong. And inherently the reason why men continue to express their negative feelings and thoughts in regards to this day. Who wants to feel pressured or obligated to do such? I haven’t the slightest clue.
After all, the expressing of love and affection cannot be forced, it must come solely from the heart.
If we rewind the hands of time and re-visit this romantic legend, we find the story of St. Valentine, a Roman priest. Mind you, this is a legend, but this is the story of how Valentine’s Day all began. In a time when Emperor Claudius II forbid men and women to marry, St. Valentine was secretly holding marriage ceremonies and uniting men and women in beautiful matrimony. Claudius II deemed men better fit for serving in the military and such; women were only a deterrence to men and what he felt their responsibilities in life should be. St. Valentine disagreed; for he continued to secretly perform ceremonies for men who had found their beloved and wanted nothing more than to be united with her through marriage. When word got back to the Emperor, St. Valentine was punished, beaten- and in the end- beheaded. Killed. Saint Valentine died, gave up his one and only life, in the the name of love.
In a world where divorce rates are more than they ever have been throughout history, hearing the story of Saint Valentine is humbling to say the least. What would we give up for true love? What would we give up for our beloved? I don’t suppose that taking one day from the year to show unconditional love and affection to our beloved, to our family, to our friends, to our neighbors, is all that far-fetched. Do you?
So, to the men out there reading this- I shall humbly speak on behalf of most women. Stop stressing, stop being bitter, get off your high horse and realize what this day really IS all about. Don’t spend another dime this Valentine’s day on fancy jewelry or boxes of chocolates wrapped in velvet bows. You are under NO obligation to do so. Instead, allow this Valentine’s Day to be one remembered for what it was intended. Obligation-free, true, genuine expressions of love. Instead of giving in to what society has made this Holiday to be, create a new meaning. Hand-write a letter to your beloved, reminding her of the time you fell in love, reminding her of your un-ending love and appreciation for her. Or set aside time to look her in the eyes, hold her hand and tell her all these things in which you know she deserves to be told but hardly ever hears. Do something that will surprise her. Make her laugh until she cries. Think outside the box, go the extra distance: you can do it, if only for a day. And those that refuse to let love slip from their reach- will do it.
Cheers to St. Valentine for reminding us of the power of love and the distance we should go in order to fulfill such love.
To my family, my loved ones, dear friends and neighbors alike, cherish this historical legend and holiday to come... make it your own, but make it special and true and genuine. For this, this beautiful thing we call love, is what many search an entire lifetime to find.